2010 Physical Sciences Review » Biographies » Richard W. Spinrad

Richard W. Spinrad

Richard W. Spinrad

Richard (Rick) W. Spinrad

NOAA Assistant Administrator in the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research


Dr. Spinrad is responsible for daily operations and administration of NOAA's research enterprise, and the execution of NOAA programs including the Climate program, National Sea Grant, and Ocean Exploration.


  • M.S. Physical Oceanography, Oregon State University, 1978
  • Ph.D. Marine Geology, Oregon State University, 1982

Research Interests

Dr. Spinrad has worked in a wide range of positions in government, academia, industry and non-governmental organizations. As a research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, he published concepts critical to understanding the relationship between water clarity and marine biological productivity. He served as President of Sea Tech, Inc., when that company was developing oceanographic sensors, and went on to manage oceanographic research at the Office of Naval Research. Dr. Spinrad has served on many professional committees and organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, and was a faculty member at the U.S. Naval Academy and George Mason University.


  • Awarded Meritorious (2003) and Distinguished (2009) Presidential Rank Awards
  • Received the 2003 Department of Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the highest civilian award that can be given by the Navy Department
  • Co-chair of the White House Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (since 2003)
  • U.S. representative to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (2003-2007)
  • Fellow, American Meteorological Society, Marine Technology Society, and Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology
  • Former executive director of CORE, the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education

Recent Publications

  • Watkins, J.D., Schaff T.R., and Spinrad R.W. (2009) How the Oceanographic Community Created a National Oceanographic Partnership Program, Oceanography, 22(2), 20-24.
  • Spinrad, R.W. (2008) Reaching out to users, decision-makers and policy-developers, J. Operational Oceanography, 1(2), p2.
  • Spinrad, R.W. (2006) The evolution and revolution of ocean science and technology, Marine Technology Society Journal, 40 (2), 134-135.